MSNBC reportedly in pursuit of Shepard Smith for primetime gig, may spark bidding war with CNN

Screenshot Fox News

When it comes to politics in post-Obama America, the one thing that makes perfect sense is the talk about Shepard Smith going to MSNBC.

It makes just as much sense that CNN may also be competing for his services, given Smith’s noted anti-Trump sentiment.

The former Fox News host who left the network in October is reportedly being pursued by MSNBC President Phil Griffin for a potential prime time show, according to The Daily Beast.

Any such gig would come after Smith’s non-compete clause expires, and he’s expected to command a considerable salary, according to the online news source.

“It’s unclear what slot he would take, but we’d want him in primetime,” an MSNBC insider told The Daily Beast. “We are well aware [Jeff] Zucker [president of CNN] is also pursuing him, as are a number of the networks.”

The loser in Smith going to MSNBC would be “ratings-challenged Chuck Todd” and his MTP Daily show, which would reportedly be moved from 5 p.m. to a morning slot in an anticipated major 2020 shakeup of the lineup.

Todd is seen as “a hammock” between Nicolle Wallace’s 4 p.m. show and Ari Melber’s 6 p.m. show, which enjoy better ratings.

As might be expected, Todd is said to be resisting such a move.

“Several sources inside NBC cited the perception that his new slot would hurt him with an even bigger dip for any program that airs after the successful Morning Joe franchise,” the Daily Beast noted. “Others said that some of the show’s staffers were less than thrilled by the scheduling demands of an earlier time slot.”

A source told the Daily Beast that NBC News and MSNBC Chairman Andy Lack met with the Meet the Press staff in DC recently to discuss the team’s weekend show and various other projects.

After 23 years at Fox News, Smith abruptly announced his departure Oct. 11, 2020.

“Recently I asked the company to allow me to leave Fox News and begin a new chapter,” he said in a prepared statement. “After requesting that I stay, they graciously obliged. The opportunities afforded this guy from small town Mississippi have been many.”

Smith seemed to hint that he would turn up again somewhere when he mentioned an agreement with Fox News, adding: “I won’t be reporting elsewhere, at least not in the near future.”

NBC’s Al Roker said at the time that Smith was “the best anchor” Fox News had — an assessment that many Fox News viewers would challenge.

President Trump was often critical of Smith’s reporting, which drifted more and more to the left, calling him Fox News’ “lowest-rated anchor.”

Smith found himself at odds with other colleagues at the network toward the end of his time there, getting into an on-air back and forth with the likes of Tucker Carlson and Sean Hannity.


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